Old Books

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to string words together. Most of those early stories are forgotten, and should be. I was learning. I was also young, so they revolved around horses and ranches and guys too cool to exist (or resist).

I married young to a high school sweetheart who was pretty damn cool. I was really practical about it: “I’ll try this once, and if it doesn’t work out, never again.” (I never married again.)

We lasted six years. It turned out he wasn’t as cool as I thought he was. In fact, he was kind of a dick, though we did have some good times, bought a house in south Minneapolis (he still lives there today, with his second wife, who happens to have the same first name as me), and he introduced me to a bunch of his friends, one of whom was R. Yup, that’s how far back my friendship with him goes–about forty years.

I wasn’t happy most of the time, so I wrote a lot. Finished four books. They were written on a typewriter. If I made a mistake, white-out was used. Remember those days? Jesus, I’m glad computers were invented!

My first “book” was a Star Trek fanfic. I still have it, albeit in a form that’s not easily read because I can’t even remember what program I used to create it. Not Word, though. Didn’t exist in the early days of desktops. Notepad opens it, except it does weird things to the formatting. I used the word impassive repetitively, and guess what? I didn’t have to re-read it to realize that. I remember, all these years later, overusing that word horribly. But it was written on a typewriter, and I never had a chance to fix that.

Then I wrote the Theo Fenraven book. For those of you who don’t know, I stole the name from myself. The book was named Fenraven and was a space opera similar to Star Wars. I have a print copy of this, and the first page is damn good. The writing is clean and lean, and I didn’t spot anything I’d change. Apparently, I had talent even then. Heh.

I’m considering rewriting the sucker and publishing it, because as I recall, it was fun. Very little hard science, just light entertainment when you’re in the mood for it. The scooters that ran on electric tracks in my book are now a reality in several cities, only it’s trolleys using them. We still don’t have personal spaceships, though. Bummer. 

After that came a tearjerker named Beaver Creek. I’m amazed at how long it is on paper: 335 pages! Apparently, I was more wordy then. I remember this one only vaguely, but it had a rural setting and someone died.

Last but not least was a raunchy story about a commune and a sexy threesome. This one is also surprisingly long. I did read some of it. Not bad, but dated. Things really have changed in the last 30-40 years.

Life got in the way for the next twenty years, and I didn’t return to writing again until long after my divorce and getting laid off a job during one of Bush’s recessions. I haven’t stopped since.

I’m not sure what I want to do with these stories, but I’ve been lugging them around since I was in my twenties. Throwing them out would be like destroying a piece of me. To rewrite them, I’d either have to type them all into Scrivener or open the electronic copies in Notepad and fix the damn formatting before proceeding.

Do any of you have old completed manuscripts you haven’t done anything with?

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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20 Responses to Old Books

  1. Lisa B. says:

    Not manuscripts but I do have 4 papers from my undergrad and graduate school days that I’m particularly proud of. I also keep a twenty-page paper that I wrote for a literature class. Received a D. My first grade below a B. I keep it to remind myself that no matter how much that devastated me at the time, in the long run, it made no difference at all.

    • It’s amazing how often things that crushed us turn out not to matter. I always ask myself this now: will it matter in a day? a week? a year? If the answer is no, and it usually is, I stop fretting so much.

  2. W. Lotus says:

    I’m not a serious fiction writer. It’s a hobby for me. That said, I have one that is mostly finished–it lacks editing–which has always been intended for my eyes only. I also have a bunch of short stories in the same state.

  3. Helena Stone says:

    I don’t have any old stories hidden away somewhere, unless they’re so well hidden they’ve also slipped my mind 😉 I am very curious about your early stuff though, so I really hope you’ll find a good and not too painful way to resurrect them.

    • With R’s help, I did manage to recover about 80% of the electronic copies (two of the three books contained corrupted files). I don’t even remember typing these into a computer, but I must have at some point, and like the print copies, managed to keep the digital copies, computer to computer. Strange, eh?

      I’ll probably get them into publishable shape in the future. At least, I’ll give it a shot, which is the only way to tell if they really are worth putting out there.

  4. Jaycee Edward says:

    Well, this will date me. When I was around thirteen I wrote a Mod Squad “script” (I had the biggest crush on Mike Cole!) Then I wrote another one for Emergency! (Again, I had a thing for Randolph Mantooth.). I assume my mom threw them away when she cleaned out my childhood room. And before you say she shouldn’t have done that…I was asked, pleaded with, begged, then threatened, about taking just one day to come get what I wanted out of that room so she could clean it and I never took the time to do it. Very cool that you still have yours though!

    • I have nothing from when I lived at home either, and I did write a bunch of garbage back then. Heh. Hey, I wrote a Girl from UNCLE story because I thought April Dancer was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen and Noel Harrison was cute. I remember I used a quill pen and bottled green ink (an affectation a friend and I took up for no reason except we thought it was cool) and bound the lined notepaper with black electrical tape. You read that right! I was a teenager who lived in the suburbs. I didn’t drive and had no access to more sophisticated stuff. 🙂

  5. Bryan D. Spellman says:

    The first six drafts of my doctoral dissertation were typed on a Sperry-Remington electric type ball typewriter, specially built for me using IBM Selectric’s expired patents, so that I could type in English and French without changing the type element. The final six drafts were done on an Apple /// desktop computer using 5 1/2 inch floppy disks and a very early version of Word Perfect. I still have the disks, but no way to get anything off them, so should I ever want to revise the dissertation and publish it, I’d have to take the hard copy and re-enter all 300 + pages using modern technology.

    • Oy! I feel your pain. I remember the days of 5-1/4″ floppies. I got rid of the last of the smaller floppies a few years ago.

      I’m going to have to type in multiple chapters of two books, as several files were corrupted in both zips. I probably should be glad I didn’t save them as one huge zip file. Any corruption at all, and I’d have lost the whole thing.

  6. diannegray says:

    I’ve got heaps of old stories getting eaten by silverfish in the shed 😉 I’ve also got the old typed ones from when I started using WordPerfect (I think that’s what it was called) and can’t open them now xxx

  7. Kevin Shea says:

    I don’t have any finished novels, but lots of short fiction. I think I suffered from early success, with my first two submissions selling immediately. When the third one was rejected, it wasn’t too terrible, but then when the next two were also rejected, it paralyzed me. I’ve only submitted once more, almost a decade later, and that fourth rejection seems to have been some kind of nail in the coffin of my writing.

    My first writing that survives is from 1975, when I was twelve, and is James Bond / Avengers inspired, involving two cousins, a male and female, first entering the world of secret service post college. Surprisingly for the time, and considering my father’s influence, the male wasn’t particularly superior to the female. Perhaps that was a result of the Purdy/Gambit influence.

    The first post-typewriter writing I did was on the Coleco Adam, with its integral daisy-wheel printer that was the power supply for the whole computer, so had to go through some sort of calibration each time it was turned on that sounded like the world was ending. I still have that print-out in a binder.

    • Think you’ll ever take up writing again? Although I imagine reaching a point where I simply quit, I wonder if I’ll ever get there. I still enjoy the process too much, though I admit I’m not as fond of the “readying for publication” part of it.

      • Kevin Shea says:

        I never stopped writing, completely, I just stopped submitting. I still pick away at an assortment of commercial novels and short fiction. A lot of my creative output would give my family angina, and ends up posted anonymously on Tumblr.

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